(Taken from ‘Old Halls of Lancashire and Cheshire’ available free on http://www.archive.org)
BAGULEY HALL, once an important mansion, but now much reduced in size, and used only as a farmhouse, is situated on rising ground about four miles to the west of Cheadle, and about six miles, as the crow flies, to the south of Manchester. It is thus just within the northern extremity of the county of Chester.
Portions of the present structure dates from the early Tudor and mid- Georgian epochs, but the only really ancient part which remains is the fine great hall, which, however, is one of the earliest now existing in Cheshire, and is full of interest.
The present length of the great hall is about thirty-four feet, but it is not improbable that the apartment extended originally about eight feet further to the south, giving room for the high table and its dais and canopy, though there are indications that the table may have stood in a canopied recess, as at Samlesbury Hall, beyond the existing south wall of the room.
The width of the great hall is twenty-eight feet. The height of the side walls, from the floor to the top of the wall-plate, is about seventeen feet, and from the floor to the top of the ridge about thirty-eight feet. The pitch of the roof is consequently very steep, as in the case of Tabley and Smithells, and almost all other buildings of similarly early date.
The ” passage ” is protected by a porch at its westerly end, on which side is the principal approach to the house. Behind the screen is the usual central doorway to the kitchen, which is reached by a passage curiously arched over in stone. This central doorway is flanked by those to the buttery and pantry. Neither at this end of the room nor elsewhere is there any indication of a minstrels’ gallery. In the great hall there are no vestiges either of a fireplace or of a louvre in the roof for the escape of smoke. In this respect again there is a correspondence with Smithells, and it is possible that, as at Smithells, the ingle-nook was in the lord’s chamber, at the back of the high table. The roof is open-timbered, and, as in most buildings of this early date, is rough and irregular in its workmanship. This characteristic is, however, less objectionable to the eyes of many artists than the neat and mechanical work of the time of Queen Anne, and some architects of the present day are even bold enough to imitate this earlier style.
The principal rafter forming the ** screens ” is a fine example of ancient woodwork. On plan it is narrowed, so as to form wide buttresses inside the apartment, consisting of massive oak framing, ten inches in thickness, and sheltering the occupants of the low tables. These buttresses or ** speeres ” are divided by massive cross-rails, one foot nine inches deep. The bottom division consists of plain panels. Above are arched and cusped openings, the character of which appears to date the erection very early in the fourteenth century. On the floor of the great hall is a much-worn recumbent effigy of a knight in armour. Mr. Tatton has supplied me with the following notes respecting this monument : — ” The effigy in the hall is that of Sir William Baguley, who lived in the fourteenth century, and was, I believe, the builder of the Old Hall. He was connected by marriage with the Leghs of Lyme and there is a tradition that the oak used in building the Hall was from the park at Lyme. The effigy was formerly in the Baguley chapel in old Bowdon church.”
The Rev. S. J. Allen, who sketched this Old Hall about the year 1840, seems to have been much impressed by the extraordinary size of the oak timber framing forming its walls, as he has carefully figured some of their dimensions. Thus by reference to Plate XXX. it will be seen that the head of the east doorway is cut out of a piece of oak nearly three feet wide, the main upright posts out of timber two feet six wide, and others in proportion. Not merely does this old building afford an instance of massive construction in oak work, but it also proves the great durability of this material, for the timbers here are in splendid condition.
The windows are tall and large for such early architecture, though the lights are narrow, being only one foot wide. The mullions are of solid oak, six inches square, the tops of the oak sills being about four feet from the floor. There are indications of the shutters, which in early times were used instead of glass, and of which a good example is found at Stokesay Castle, near Ludlow.
The timber framing of the side walls rests on a massive oak beam or sill, carried on a stone plinth about eighteen inches in height.
There are traditions that a moat formerly existed at Baguley Hall, but no traces of it are now visible.
From Ormerod’s ” History of Cheshire ” we learn that Sir William Baggiley was lord of Baggiley in 13 Edward H. His daughter Isabell, co-heiress with her brother John Baggiley, married Sir John Legh, of Booths, near Knutsford. Her son. Sir William Legh, of Baggiley succeeded, and the estate remained in the possession of the Legh family until the latter part of the seventeenth century, the last male heir being Edward Legh, Esq., who married Elinour, daughter of William Tatton, of Wythenshawe, Esq., and left three daughters.
Subsequently Baguley became the property of the Viscounts Allen, in whose hands it remained till the middle of the last century, when it passed by purchase to Joseph Jackson, of Rostherne, Esq. Mr. Jackson devised the estate by will to the Rev. Millington Massey, from whom it was^inherited by his daughter, and on her marriage in 1825 it was conveyed by the trustees of the marriage settlement to the father of the present owner, T. W. Tatton, of Wythenshawe, Esq.